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Little Mermaid actress says she anticipated  backlash over decision to cast her in the role: 'As a black person, you just expect it'

Photo courtesy @GeeksGamersCom / Twitter

Halle Bailey, actress for the live-action version of Disney's "The Little Mermaid," said that she expected backlash for playing the character Ariel, previously white in Disney's cartoon movie, according to an interview with the Face.

Bailey said that she started receiving a negative response once she was announced as being cast for the role, when at the same time a trending Twitter hashtag "#NotMyAriel" began circulating.

“As a black person, you just expect it and it’s not really a shock any more,” she said about the negative response.

“I know people are like: ‘It’s not about race.’ But now that I’m her,” she continued, "people don’t understand that when you’re black there’s this whole other community. It’s so important for us to see ourselves.”

However, Bailey says she generally did not read social media comments, thanks to some friendly advice, and that when the teaser trailer was released at a Disney event, she was very happy with the response.

"‘I never read my comments. Don’t ever read the comments,'" Bailey says a friend told her, before adding that "when the teaser came out, I was at the [Disney event] and I was so happy. I didn’t see any of the negativity.”

Bailey says she was inundated with videos of black children excited about her role, with one video allegedly showing a girl saying “she’s black like me!”

“I was crying all night for two days, just staring at them in disbelief,” she said of the videos. "It makes me feel more grateful for where I am," she added.

The film's star thanked the filmmakers for allowing the character to have dreadlocks, saying that the hair is "spiritual."

“As a black woman, hair is spiritual, especially locs [sic]. It was really cool for them to make Ariel a version of me with my locs [sic]. I feel like that’s what mermaid hair would be anyway.”

The actress again referred to a racial "community" regarding her role in the remake of Steven Spielberg's 1985 film "The Color Purple."

The movie tied the record for most Oscar nominations without a win at 11, despite actress Whoopi Goldberg winning a series of awards for her role.

"That movie has meant so much to us in our community for so long. It was Whoopi Goldberg’s first big thing,” said the 22-year-old.

“I hope people like my versions [of the characters in The Color Purple and The Little Mermaid]. But at the same time, I’ll respect it if they don’t," she added.

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